Instinctively probably, I have always thought of music as a powerful healing element. One that is not used as often as it should… maybe because there is no scientific proof that it can indeed help those who suffer with depression, sleeping difficulties, pain etc. !
I remember vividly bringing to the ICU room of the friend I was visiting a small music player and a few recordings of some classical music pieces.
The room was full of monitors and often many busy nurses and doctors doing their job. Bleeping monitors attached to my friend’s chest and arms... not exactly a peaceful place to be!
I could read on my friend’s face, unable to talk at the time, anxiety and tremendous tension, fear.
I asked a doctor if I could have her listen to what I thought was the most beautiful music… most of it from W. A. Mozart!
What happened then was expected. Her look became different… her attitude calmer, her hands resting and not crisped.
Music is a universal language that has the ability to speak to us deeply and uniquely.
Music is Healing for All Ages
Everyone from tiny infants to octogenarians experience little miracles like this every day. Some are healed, some are given a few moments of relief from pain, still others are comforted in their passage to the beyond. It is the power of music which makes these little miracles possible.
If you have a good sound system… let me suggest something that you can do right now. Simply listen to this extraordinary voice.
You may want to select another type of music on this page. Maybe all pieces or maybe one will surely have a powerful effect on you. Try listening to your selected piece prior to retiring… you will be amazed at how deep your sleep will be! Music offers us relief from stress in many ways. It helps us to open ourselves emotionally and let loose with negative feelings. If one is opened to it, music through our mind and emotion can be extremely beneficial to our well being. It is said that certain kinds of music actually lower blood pressure and heart rate and regulate breathing. For individuals with hypertension and related conditions, music might be much more powerful (and safer) than some prescription drugs!
"If you've paid much attention to how you respond to a variety of music, you may have noticed that some music seems to energize you, some music can move you to tears or spark a special memory of a time, place, food, or perhaps a certain person. Some music seems to make you relax, feel less stressed, and feel happier. And some music fills us with deep spiritual attunement." Shirley E. Kaiser, M.A.
A group of Alzheimer’s patients are gathered in the assembly room of a nursing home. One tiny, frail woman sits off to the side in her wheelchair. Her eyes are vacant - her mind somewhere far from her body and the room in which it rests.
The activities director introduces a young couple. He carries a guitar, and walks with his wife to the piano. The young woman sits down, and plays a few notes. Most of the residents have not even looked up - they don't hear most of what anyone says - or if they do, they cannot, or will not, respond. But the two volunteers are unconcerned; they smile at each other and the seniors and they begin to play and sing. A rousing rendition of "Oh, Susannah" has several of the residents looking up - flickers of recognition cross their faces. A few choruses of "How Great Thou Art" inspire many of them to stand and walk or wheel their chairs toward the piano. Soon several are singing along to "Amazing Grace". A few country and western tunes bring several more residents into the present, and "In the Mood" has nearly everyone dancing along. Everyone, that is, except the frail, tiny woman in the wheelchair in the corner.
The guitarist is concerned, and calls over a nurse who tells him that the little woman is German, and doesn't know most American songs. She has also reverted back to speaking German - unable to converse any longer in English, for she cannot remember the words.
The young man smiles and signals to his wife. The next tune is the "Blue Danube." He watches closely, and sees that the frail old woman's eyes begin to focus. She watches as several of the residents begin to waltz together - wheelchairs and all. When "The Beer Barrel Polka" starts, this tiny woman, who hasn't smiled or connected in any way with anyone for months, wheels her chair toward the piano. Singing all the way. The other residents clap, and sing along with her, all of them excited to recognize her and each other. The party continues for an hour, when the young couple must go to their day jobs.
When the music stops, it isn't long before most of the residents retreat back into their selves. But the frail little lady continues to hum - she's remembered a tune on her own now, and hums the melody to "Liebestraum" until she, too, fades back into her own world. It was only for a short while, but the music gave these lonely patients a few moments of connection, happiness, and memory.
You see… healing is about people. And real people are experiencing very real results from the healing power of music, often through the efforts of volunteers, in hospices, senior centers, and in cancer and children's wards.
Music and the brain
"Music might provide an alternative entry point" to the brain, because it can unlock so many different doors into an injured or ill brain, said Dr. Gottfried Schlaug, a Harvard University neurologist. Pitch, harmony, melody, rhythm and emotion — all components of music — engage different regions of the brain. And many of those same regions are also important in speech, movement and social interaction. If a disease or trauma has disabled a brain region needed for such functions, music can sometimes get in through a back door and coax them out by another route, Schlaug says.
"In a sense, we're using musical tools to particularly engage certain parts of the brain and then teach the brain new tricks — new tools — to overcome an impairment," he says.
Healing Music in Hospitals
According to Dr. Alice Cash “In a hospital, the ideal is to use personalized music, offered to patients as well as those in the waiting areas through clean headphones, much like those that are offered on international flights. There could be either a tape or CD library available or audio equipment embedded in the seats to plug into for a choice of music selections.”
People undergoing surgeries require fewer anesthesias; awaken from anesthesia more quickly and with less side effects. Recovery is more rapid when healing music is played before, during and after the surgical procedure.
Individuals suffering from depression need less medication and have more success in psychotherapy when music is added to their course of treatment. Grief, loneliness, even anger; are all managed much better when appropriate music is added to therapy.
Autistic children and children diagnosed with attention deficit disorder all react positively to music therapy. Kids with learning disabilities show remarkable improvement in mathematics, reading and reasoning skills when they are exposed to appropriate music. The results are magnified many times when these same children have an opportunity to make music.
According to Dr. Alfred Tomatis: "The ear's primary function is to help grow the brain of the unborn child. In spite of all of the other sounds surrounding him (mother's heartbeat, circulation, digestion), the fetus can recognize the maternal voice as early as 4 1/2 months before birth. It is as essential to his growth as food is. The umbilical cord feeds the body while the sound waves nourish the brain. After birth, the ear charges the neo-cortex and therefore ignites the entire nervous system.
Our nervous system can be "charged" or "discharged" by the sounds around us. High frequencies (such as those found frequently in Mozart's violin concertos) energise the brain. The lower ones drain all energy away.
To use sound in a positive manner, Dr. Tomatis prescribes sonic therapy instead of medication. In doing so, his goal is to rebuild the inner ear's muscles so that the ear can once again differentiate all the frequencies of surrounding sounds. This retraining of the ear is done through "the electronic ear," Tomatis' own invention in which modified headphones transmit sound through the bones as well as through air. Tapes of Mozart's music (specially-filtered to amplify the higher frequencies) are used, as well as recordings of the mother's voice (when available) and some Gregorian chants.
Negative Music Can hurt!
On the other hand, music that is negative, or filled with hate or fear, can be emotionally and physically damaging. It inspires more fear, and from fear comes imbalance and disease. And just as the sound of a jackhammer sets up painful vibrations in our ears, music with discordant frequencies or hateful lyrics sets up dissonant vibrations in our bodies and souls. We must be conscious of the negative effects of raucous sounds and negative music, and counteract them with positive music created out of love.
The health of the physical body is inextricably tied to our emotional, mental and spiritual health. Music is a powerful catalyst for healing because it touches the very core of humanity... our souls. With music, we can remember our connection to the Creator and the powerful Healer within. We can take control of our health and our lives as we enjoy The Healing Sound of Music.
It is ideal to listen to the music through speakers rather than headphones so that the cells of the body themselves may “listen” to the sound.
Prepare Yourself to Listen.
Take off your shoes. Stand relaxed, sit or lie down and breathe.
Listen All the Way Through.
It is preferable to listen to the musical composition all the way through, without interruption. This allows for the optimum response to the transformation process.
Foreground, Not Background.
We all have the tendency to use music for the background of other activities. Try developing the technique of just listening to the music, not doing anything else. This way, you will get the best benefit.
Listen Actively, Not Passively.
Allow the music to reach your inner feeling, and respond freely to it. Everyone has a different manner of expression. You may experience visual images, thoughts, movement, an intensification of emotion, physical vibrations, sleep, or nothing at all.
Observe Mind/Body Connection.
A lot of research has been done recently showing that there is a definite connection between the mind and the body. (Actually this refers to the emotions too but it sounds succinct to say “mind/body.”) Even though music healing is often related to relaxation and emotional issues, there is the likelihood that this indirectly could have a benefit on physical illnesses as well.
Enjoy the Silence!
When the music stops, it is suggested that you bask in the silence for many moments. This will help integrate the feelings.
Use a Journal.
If you wish to record your progress in a journal, it can be helpful, but not necessary."
In conclusion, remember that your nervous system as well as your mind are very sensitive to music. Sounds have an effect on your mood (brain/mind) that you can feel immediately (reduced stress, deep emotion, inner peace).
Music will bring harmony (balance) at the cellular level with a direct effect on your general well being.
For this to happen though, one needs to disconnect from one's computer, TV and smart phone. One needs to surrender in order to better listen, enjoy and be touched.